Forensic Identification in Humanitarian Action

Starting this year our third semester will have a unique chance to uncover the secrets of forensics by participating in specially designed course.

Starting this year our third semester students will have a unique chance to uncover the secrets of forensics by participating in specially designed course “Forensic Identification in Humanitarian Action”. 

The course  consists of five intensive modules covering 30 teaching hours and provides students with the theoretical framework and practical, hands-on knowledge of the forensic and investigative sciences that can be applied in a diverse range of scenarios regularly experienced in the field work of humanitarian agencies, aid institutions and NGOs.

The first three modules offer the students an exhaustive knowledge on several forensic disciplines used for the purpose of human identification. That includes – among others - fingerprinting analysis, footmark impression analysis, a wide range of biometric identification techniques, forensic documents analysis, forensic linguistics, forensic dentistry, anthropology, archaeology and medicine.    In each case, the students will be provided both with the theoretical knowledge and practical exercises enabling them to test their skills in the controlled environment. In addition, the students will learn about the tactical side of forensic and investigative work, e.g. crime scene processing, criminal analysis, forensic documentation holding an evidential value, intelligence gathering, etc. The course also includes the topics related to forensic psychology, such as the issues of the validity and reliability of witness’ statements, techniques and tactics of interrogation, examination and interviewing (in theory and practice).

 The theoretical and exercise modules described above will focus mostly on their potential application in two areas of humanitarian action work: human identification for the purpose of migration-related issues and forensic science applications for the cases of genocide crimes, terrorism and natural disasters.

The final two modules of the course are designed to test the students’ knowledge and skills in a set of simulated, real-time exercises. In both cases, the participants will work in a highly realistic mock-scene environment, using the real equipment and documentation. Students will be confronted with different types of scenarios and they will work under the guidance and supervision of the course instructors and experts. One module will deal with the issues of human identification in the simulated border-checkpoint, where all types of techniques and tactical approaches will need to be applied (interviewing, interrogating, fingerprinting, use of biometric technologies, documents’ analysis) quickly and efficiently. Such exercise will allow students to see what are the challenges and problems associated with this types of situations and what kinds of methods may be used to proficiently perform such duties, even in the most demanding situations. The last practical module will focus on the application of forensic identification techniques to crime scenes that humanitarian action workers may experience in the course of their career. The mock scene will combine all of the previously learned methods for the purpose of genocide investigations (forensic archaeology, exhumation techniques, anthropological identification, DNA sampling) together with the skilful documentation collected in such way that it could later be used in the court of law.

 In summary, the course will provide students with the thorough theoretical knowledge and practical skills in forensic and investigative sciences, enabling them to utilize such experience in their future careers in humanitarian action.